Proactivity and Career Resiliency: Pearls of wisdom from Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin’s declaration that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a timeless formula for sustaining ones’ career resiliency.
Effective coping skills are an essential ingredient of resiliently coping with career adversity. The key to effective coping is working through the emotions that difficulty triggers to embrace problem-oriented coping strategies. One perspective that often gets neglected is that of proactivity. People who anticipate and prepare for future threats to their career viability are better prepared to navigate tough times and thrive. One way to prepare is to enhance your external awareness and scan your environment for emerging trends that may one day impact you, your organization, or your profession.
I recall my days as a human resource director in a large consulting firm in 1999. At the time, the dot-com craze was booming. Many of the information technology consultants employed by my organization were highly skilled in mainframe computer technology. People with HTML and Java programming skills were hot commodities in the industry. Unfortunately, the company I worked for lagged behind in articulating a strategy to embrace this new technology as well as offering training programs to retool staff. Our consultants struggled in an awkward position since clients expected that consultants placed on their engagements would have the knowledge and skill of this new technology.
I met some forward-thinking consultants who took it upon themselves to begin updating their competencies in these new technologies long before the firm asked them to do it. As a result, these resilient consultants had proactively developed the right skills at the right time and landed highly desirable client project assignments. Unfortunately, my firm had to downsize the workforce, and one of the criteria was relevancy of skill sets to market demands. By anticipating these emerging trends and taking action, the resilient staff averted career disaster and created their success.
How can you proactively anticipate potential challenges before they happen? Here are 5 ideas to get you started:
1. Build in time to proactively manage your career by anticipating emerging trends
Proactive career management occurs when you intentionally set aside time on your calendar to do it. Consider scheduling a couple of hours a month to read, reflect, and take action. Increase your accountability to set aside this time by engaging supportive colleagues that are also interested in improving their resiliency.
2. Talk with or follow highly resilient people in your industry, profession or organization
Most of us know people that have a knack for anticipating and preparing for the future. Talk to these people and find out what they are anticipating, as well as how they are preparing for it. Use social media, such as Twitter, to simplify the process of tracking experts in your field.
3. Review industry research reports
There is a multitude of free industry research reports available on the web that provide useful information on emerging trends in your industry or sector. These reports can give you a good sense of new developments in the industry, regulatory changes, competitors actions, as well as perspectives on your organization. Click here for an example of pharmaceutical industry trends.
4. Review professional trends
Most leading professional associations represent a goldmine of resources on emerging trends that could represent incredible opportunities for you. For example, by identifying emerging professional trends, you might be able to increase your career viability (and salary!) by introducing innovative new initiatives to your organization. For example, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has published a list of market trends for audiologists.
5. Conduct a SWOT analysis on your career
Many organizations do a SWOT analysis when developing a strategic plan. This approach can apply to your job too. By proactively identifying your professional strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats in your organizational context, you can be better prepared to take action and mitigate or avoid potential career setbacks.
Major publications such as Time or Fast Company publish annual career predictions and trends that may give you insight on emerging trends. Once you collect this information, begin asking yourself questions that can drive action and insight:
What emerging trends are appearing in my industry or sector and how well is my organization preparing for these?
What do these trends suggest about the viability of my organization?
What skills should I start developing now to get ready?
What new professional practices are emerging that I can introduce to my organization?
Emerging trends that trigger career setbacks cannot always be anticipated. However, resilient people take action nonetheless. By leveraging experts and numerous online resources, you can prepare for these trends, avoid career setbacks, and thrive in your career.
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Dr. Kevin Nourse has more than 20 years of experience developing resilient leaders and is the founder of Nourse Leadership Strategies. Together with Dr. Lynn Schmidt, he wrote Shift Into Thrive: Six Strategies for Women to Unlock the Power of Resiliency. Kevin resides in Palm Springs, California, and Washington, DC.
(c) 2016 Kevin Nourse